First, marriages involving girls in their early teens—and social pressures that encourage under-age marriage—is child abuse, plain and simple. There should be no liberal or conservative divide on this point.When this story first broke it reminded me that all of our talk of "tolerance" and church signs proclaiming "WE WELCOME EVERYONE TO OUR TABLE!" is really a mask for a whole lot of discrimination. We all discriminate by drawing a line somewhere. Religious freedom is not absolute: If you marry off 12 year old girls to 45 year old men as part of your religion you should be stopped. "Tolerance" in a church is not absolute: If the pastor who "welocmes all" hired an unrepentent child molestor as a youth leader, he has done wrong by welcoming the pervert.
But let’s think about polygamous living arrangements as a basis for this raid. Today, traditional notions of marriage are under attack. We hear everywhere that anyone who is “committed” to another should not be denied the “right” to marry. Our constitutional jurisprudence is warming to the idea that many aspects of behavior involve a “right to privacy,” and that marriage is within that zone.
As a result, what moral, social or legal response can we give today to members of Yearning for Zion who demand that polygamy be decriminalized?
This question is relevant not only to obscure Mormon sects. In Canada and Europe, some Muslims are already demanding state recognition of plural marriage. To the right of privacy and equal protection under the law, they add religious freedom as a justification.
Another point: The Texas raid wrenched hundreds of children away from their mothers. According to Time, 77 of these youngsters are under the age of two. The children are now living in a variety of temporary facilities and foster homes, and are being supervised by a foster care system that is already overtaxed. Was grave harm done to these children and their mothers when Texas authorities seized and refused to return them? The answer seems clear, and should make us shudder.
It is not a choice between being "welcoming" or "intolerant." The question is simply, Where do YOU draw the line? In a culture where no foundation of universal morals is recognized, all that remains is the whim of public opinion backed by the power of the state. Might not my own marriage lived according to my religion be eventually viewed as dangerous to my children?